Salman Khurshid’s confession embarrasses Congress

You don’t expect politicians to speak the truth, at least not which reveals them and their parties in a bad light. Especially in the post-truth age, a politician saying it as it is truly remarkable. But whether by sheer chance or due to an entrapment, senior Congress leader and former law minister Salman Khurshid confessing that his party’s hands are stained with the blood of his co-religionists has triggered a huge controversy. His party is so embarrassed that it has lost no time in distancing itself from his confessional. Now what remains to be seen is when it will distance itself from Khurshid, for what he said is bound to rile the largest minority community with a considerable electoral clout to make or mar the fortunes of the Congress Party.

First, the facts. Speaking at a student body function organised by the Aligarh Muslim University last Sunday, a student posed a pointed question, listing all the riots that have taken place since Independence under the Congress’s watch all over the country, supplementing it further with the fact that a Congress government had allowed the installation of idols of the Hindu gods and goddesses in the disputed Babri structure and another Congress government had opened the gates of the masjid for shilanayas. Having listed all these facts, he posed the question: How can the Congress wash off the Muslim blood on its hands? Salman felt flummoxed. Mumbled that it was a political question, and then went on to admit straightaway that there was blood on the party’s hands…claiming that he himself was part of the Congress and he would concede that “we have blood on our hands.”Immediately afterwards, he sought to wear the politician’s mask, saying that the past misdeeds cannot stop them from trying to protect the Muslims should they be attacked by others.

A day later, when the report of his confession made headlines, leaving his party leaders ashamed and angry, Khurshid resorted to the predictable ploy of blaming the media for distorting his remarks. But the damage was done, with the nightly television news channels debating the remarks ad nauseam. Because what happened at the AMU function seemed to be unscripted, otherwise one would have read into Salman’s confessional a strategy meant to dovetail into the current effort by Rahul Gandhi to visit various Hindu temples and mutts in search of Hindu votes and to erase the impression that the party is anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim. Now, what can be a bigger proof of the Congress not being pro-Muslim than the admission by one of its prominent Muslim leaders that the party has the blood of Muslims on its hands? Such cynicism aside, taking Salman’s admission at its face value fits into the informed narrative that successive Congress governments have merely paid lip service to the cause of the Muslims while doing precious little to improve their socio-economic status. The Sachar report commissioned by the Manmohan Singh Government spotlighted the back-wardness of the community despite the noise about its appeasement by the Congress Party.

In other words, in concrete terms, the BJP and the Congress did little to better the lot of the Muslims but the difference was that while the former openly ignored them the latter fussed about them publicly without doing anything substantive to pull them out from the morass of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. There are indications that the Muslims themselves might have seen through the Congress’s ruse, having turned away from the party in the last couple of decades. The demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya in December 1992 proved the proverbial last straw, with the entire community voting en masse for various non-Congress, non-BJP alternatives wherever available. That explains the marginalisation of the Grand Old Party in the Hindi heartland, with the caste-based parties attracting the bulk of the Muslim vote.

More than two decades later, when the Muslims might have been in a forgiving mood, Rahul Gandhi’s forays into temples and mutts to counter the impression that his party appeases Muslims is bound to alienate the community afresh — regardless whether he succeeds him in winning back the votes of the majority community. Politics never before had degenerated to such cynical levels that it treated the people as mere dupes who could be fooled with such crude stratagems and ruses. Honestly, Rahul Gandhi should get himself a new set of advisers. You don’t expect politicians to speak the truth, at least not which reveals them and their parties in a bad light. Especially in the post-truth age, a politician saying it as it is truly remarkable. But whether by sheer chance or due to an entrapment, senior Congress leader and former law minister Salman Khurshid confessing that his party’s hands are stained with the blood of his co-religionists has triggered a huge controversy. His party is so embarrassed that it has lost no time in distancing itself from his confessional.

Now what remains to be seen is when it will distance itself from Khurshid, for what he said is bound to rile the largest minority community with a considerable electoral clout to make or mar the fortunes of the Congress Party. First, the facts. Speaking at a student body function organised by the Aligarh Muslim University last Sunday, a student posed a pointed question, listing all the riots that have taken place since Independence under the Congress’s watch all over the country, supplementing it further with the fact that a Congress government had allowed the installation of idols of the Hindu gods and goddesses in the disputed Babri structure and another Congress government had opened the gates of the masjid for shilanayas. Having listed all these facts, he posed the question: How can the Congress wash off the Muslim blood on its hands? Salman felt flummoxed. Mumbled that it was a political question, and then went on to admit straightaway that there was blood on the party’s hands…claiming that he himself was part of the Congress and he would concede that “we have blood on our hands.

”Immediately afterwards, he sought to wear the politician’s mask, saying that the past misdeeds cannot stop them from trying to protect the Muslims should they be attacked by others. A day later, when the report of his confession made headlines, leaving his party leaders ashamed and angry, Khurshid resorted to the predictable ploy of blaming the media for distorting his remarks. But the damage was done, with the nightly television news channels debating the remarks ad nauseam. Because what happened at the AMU function seemed to be unscripted, otherwise one would have read into Salman’s confessional a strategy meant to dovetail into the current effort by Rahul Gandhi to visit various Hindu temples and mutts in search of Hindu votes and to erase the impression that the party is anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim. Now, what can be a bigger proof of the Congress not being pro-Muslim than the admission by one of its prominent Muslim leaders that the party has the blood of Muslims on its hands? Such cynicism aside, taking Salman’s admission at its face value fits into the informed narrative that successive Congress governments have merely paid lip service to the cause of the Muslims while doing precious little to improve their socio-economic status. The Sachar report commissioned by the Manmohan Singh Government spotlighted the back-wardness of the community despite the noise about its appeasement by the Congress Party.

In other words, in concrete terms, the BJP and the Congress did little to better the lot of the Muslims but the difference was that while the former openly ignored them the latter fussed about them publicly without doing anything substantive to pull them out from the morass of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. There are indications that the Muslims themselves might have seen through the Congress’s ruse, having turned away from the party in the last couple of decades. The demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya in December 1992 proved the proverbial last straw, with the entire community voting en masse for various non-Congress, non-BJP alternatives wherever available. That explains the marginalisation of the Grand Old Party in the Hindi heartland, with the caste-based parties attracting the bulk of the Muslim vote. More than two decades later, when the Muslims might have been in a forgiving mood, Rahul Gandhi’s forays into temples and mutts to counter the impression that his party appeases Muslims is bound to alienate the community afresh — regardless whether he succeeds him in winning back the votes of the majority community. Politics never before had degenerated to such cynical levels that it treated the people as mere dupes who could be fooled with such crude stratagems and ruses. Honestly, Rahul Gandhi should get himself a new set of advisers.

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